Planning to watchGreat coupling“Jupiter and Saturn tonight (December 21)? You can photograph an event that happens once in 800 years with just the cell phone in your pocket.
tonight, Jupiter And the Saturn They will appear so close to each other in the night sky that they appear to be one bright “star”. The pair come close to a close conjunction once every 20 years, but tonight, the planets will be closest in the night sky they have been for nearly 800 years.
This does not mean that the planets are close together in the universe, but that they will Appears To be above each other from our perspective on planet Earth.
The Great Coupling 2020: Tips from NASA for seeing Jupiter and Saturn as a “Christmas star”
So, how do you shoot tonight? “Great coupling“?
First, you’ll need to find planets in the night sky. Jupiter and Saturn will appear as one point in the sky and be brighter than most other stars in the sky, so you don’t need to be in a dark location to see them. Shortly after sunset, if you are in the northern hemisphere, you will be able to spot the pair in the southwestern sky. From the Southern Hemisphere, you can spot planets in the western sky.
Once you focus on the pairing, it’s time to shoot.
Using a cell phone
If you use your cell phone, the planets will be bright enough to be visible with your phone’s camera. To improve your image, NASA Recommend some tricks.
According to NASA, enlarging planets won’t help much, but framing them can help them accentuate your image. You can also place your phone’s camera in “Night Mode,” which is available on some mobile phone models and automatically performs a steady long exposure in your photos. You can hold your phone while in night mode, but it’s easier to keep it steady for that long exposure if your phone is on a tripod or resting on something.
You can even use a wide angle lens with your phone, which can be found in the settings of many cell phones. This will allow you to set up your photo composition and try on frames according to the same guide.
Using a DSLR
If you are using something a little heavier, like a DSLR camera, NASA got involved Some advice for you, too. First, you can set the camera’s focus to Infinity in manual focus mode, which will show the planets in clearer definition. You can also open your aperture as wide as possible, letting in as much light as possible. With a DSLR camera, you can also shorten the shutter speed if you are experiencing instability issue.
One of the main advantages of using a camera on a cell phone, if it is available to you, is the ability to use a telephoto lens to see individual planets and even see their unique features. In fact, with a 200mm telephoto lens, you should be able to see Jupiter’s four or larger moons. With a telescope or longer lens, you can even see Saturn’s rings and capture more details with higher resolution.
Tips for everyone
Whatever camera you use, using a tripod or mounting a camera or phone can help something powerful. This technology can stabilize your hand to get a clearer image, allow you to take longer exposure, let in more light, and help you put the planets at center stage in your photo. According to NASA. If you are photographing planets with a DSLR camera and a tripod, “Use a shutter speed of a few seconds. More than that, the rotation of the Earth will smear the planets and stars,” NASA suggests in the same guide.
Regardless of which camera you use to photograph the event, you will have an hour or two when the planets are visible in the early evening, shortly after sunset. During this time, the colors of the sky will change and become darker. NASA suggests that by staying outside all this time, you can try to photograph the pairing in different lights as the sky changes, and capture planets as the sun sets and the dark night sky.
Plus, while you might just try to capture the anchor itself, if you juggle with the composition of your photo, framing the planets with trees or buildings in the foreground, it can add visual interest and possibly emphasize the bright spot that brought you outside, according to NASA.
Whatever way you plan to view and photograph it, keep your fingers crossed with the good weather as clouds can get in the way of seeing a clear and bright “Wonderful Coupling”.
Editor’s note: If you captured an amazing pairing scene on December 21 and want to share it with Space.com for a story or gallery, send photos and comments to [email protected].
Email Chelsea Gohd at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.